New Rules Needed to Reduce Pilot Fatigue

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June 26, 2009

The Federal Aviation Administration stated on Wednesday that recommendations for new rules aimed at limiting pilot fatigue need to be submitted by Sept. 1, according to a recent USA Today article. In a recent string of crashes — including the accident in Buffalo, NY, last February that killed 50 — pilots stated they had not received a full night’s sleep. Airlines are currently operating under 50-year-old rules allowing pilots to fly up to eight hours a day. Including ground time between flights, their day can extend up to 16 hours. Curtis Graeber, a researcher of pilot fatigue for nearly 30 years and a National Sleep Foundation board member, told USA Today that research is a better predictor of how long pilots should work rather than limiting hours. Graeber stated factors that should be considered by the governing bodies, including how many days in a row a pilot may work and allowing for an adequate rest period to ensure pilots have a good night’s sleep. Some believe that a consensus between airlines and pilot unions will prove challenging.